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The library of essays of Proakatemia

DIALOGIC – Logical Dialogue

Kirjoittanut: Hassan Chakir - tiimistä SYNTRE.

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Human beings create and share knowledge in daily basics through conversation, so the ability to think together is a vital source of competitive advantage and organizational effectiveness.

The term “dialogue” came from Greek expression means “flow of meaning”, but sometimes can be misunderstood with “conversation” which came from “to break apart”. Discussions are conversations where people defend their difference, with a goal of illuminating productive pathways by having the clash of opinions. However, in practices, discussions may turn into a one-way street. Which means that people have positions either to agree or disagree, not as partners in vital relationship.



The triangle above mentions four types of qualities a person could take in a dialogue depending on their actions. These actions were identified by David Kantor (1995). Kantor states that some people move (they initiate ideas and offer directions). Others follow (they complete what is said, help others clarify their thoughts, and support). Still others oppose (they challenge what is being said and question its validity). And the bystanders (they actively notice what is going on and avoid perspective on what’s happening).

A good rule of thumb for a leader is to restore balance in people’s interactions. For instance, he/she might strengthen they are weak or reinforce the bystanders if they have information, but they still hold it. Genuinely making room for someone who wants to challenge typically causes them to soften the stridency of their tone and makes it more possible for others to hear what they have to say. Reinforcing helps people that have resistance to share as well as vital information to reveal it. The simple action here is to pay attention to the actions that are missing and provide them yourself or encourage others to do so.


William Isaacs (1999) takes four principles and relates them to the four key practices for dialogue. And each one of them aligned with one of the four players of Kantor (1995).

These practices are: speaking your true voice, and encouraging others to do the same; listening as a participant; respecting the coherence of others’ views; and suspending your certainties. Each requires deliberate cultivation and development (see “Four Practices for Dialogic Leadership”).

LISTENING: In dialogue this exercise is taken into a collective setting. This involves a fundamental shift in perspective, becoming “an advocate for the whole” – not just listening from my own or another’s perspective. This explains why true dialogue is thought only to be possible with large numbers. For smaller numbers there is not sufficient diversity in the room to represent a ‘whole’. When we listen for the whole, we “speak to the centre of the circle”, not just to individuals.

RESPECTING: In the context of dialogue, Isaacs advocates allowing and respecting the polarisation that appears in groups, without trying to fix it or come to agreement. This involves making deliberate space for different points of view, however extreme, so that they become a part of the whole. Isaacs says it is important to allow the tension that this brings about and not to try to relieve it. This allows space for new understanding.

SUSPENDING: Collectively, suspension means surfacing issues of importance to everyone, in a way that invites a fresh response. Isaacs points out that most groups will have habitual patterns of engagement and believes that the practice of suspending can help the group to expand its range of alternatives beyond fixed points of view. It is helpful to consider the group from a collective point of view and to think of the individuals as parts of the whole. Isaacs calls this “sensing the system”.

VOICING: Also known as speaking. The voice of the whole group is characterised as an emerging story, a whole that wants to be articulated. It’s important to note that this does not imply agreement or compromise. It’s like a whole cloth, woven out of different strands. Isaacs believes that the lesson from his practice with the steel mill management and unions is that the practice of dialogue can enable people to move the story along, so it doesn’t stay stuck in the past or in limited categorisations of people and behaviour.


The effective dialogue is not just to stick to one style of the four players the whole time every time, but the way to go is to be flexible between them and use each one of them when it’s required. In addition, the dialogue exercises are the main focus to develop the skill of dialog and communication. However, it’s a bit hard to practice all of them at one time. So, the rule of thumb is to practice each one for each day sins we hare having dialogues on daily basic.





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